Archive for March 15th, 2006

Song of May: Nostalgia and Euphoria of May 1980

Click to listen to Song of May, the music is in Korean. These are songs about the May 18 Gwangju Democratic Uprising.

Song of May: Nostalgia and Euphoria of May 1980

After the incident of May 1980, we have crossed a bridge where we cannot go back. So many people were massacred by the militarists that disguised themselves with democracy and justice, and there is no one who won’t feel guilty in front of those corpses. In an era where we had to fight in order to survive, our agitation had no choice but the revolution for a fundamental transformation defying any romantic feelings.

Going beyond grief, so many songs came out that became weapons for the struggle and overcame the darkness of that era. Also, with the effort of those who lived passionately with music, we now enjoy music as music itself. After 26 years, we produced this album to commemorate the May 18 Gwangju Democratic Uprising in order to remember and immortalize that fateful incident.

If it weren’t for those songs of gruesome deaths and the steadfast for hope, we might not have the sense of pride talking bout May 18 like we do now. Knowing the values of those songs that were alive from that era, we wanted to include all of them to this new album. However, we only selected 13 songs for realistic reasons. These are songs that contain the grief and rage of May 18. Reminiscent songs that have been written after the event are also included making this a great collection music album. We made effort to have it as a representative of various genres for your listening pleasure. For musicians who remember May 18, it is certainly necessary for us to make this album delivers not only a clear message but also to make it as high quality music as well.

The first song “Song of May – 3” is a powerful song that interprets the 5.18 as the hope of a huge history. It is quite easy to feel the solid harmony of the drums and piano, performed by the group “Salm, Treut, Sori”. Even if a Magnolia Sheds” boasts its extraordinary lyricism which likens magnolia to sadness of the May 18 incident, sung well by Jin-oh Moon’s delicate vocals. Joo-sun Choo’s song “Gwangju Brook” is a song which shows the lonely sorrow and resentment through a quiet cello, making the listeners dazed by bringing them back to the day May 18, 1980. The “Song of May -2” represents the May 18 incident, and it is re-arranged into a rock version, delivering the rage livelier than ever. Byung-hwee Sohn’s “The Story of May” is a song that throws a gentle wave through an arrangement of a simple guitar and ocarina. It makes us feel a great impression, but as we hear Chi-hwan An and Tae-choon Jung’s passionate voice, it reminds us of the unfinished task of the 5.18. The “Song of May 1”, was arranged in the hymnal-style that appeases to our wound serenely, while “Huckleberry Finn’s” rock version “March For Thou” enthuses us to follow them.

Although the song has the musical language of 2006, it goes beyond and captures the essence of May 18, 26 years after. The late Mr. Nam-ju Kim’s poem recitation “Massacre”, like a hammer pounding, is one of the greatest poems about the 5.18 which still offers a very moving and powerful impression. Ggotdaji’s “Advancing May” is played with actual sounds from the scene, and is just the right song for a requiem. “Oh Gwangju O Moodeungsan” is a hymnal-arranged piece that enables us to embrace a great peal of the 5.18 spirit that has been restored with magnificence. “Mwetbinari” is a Korean traditional style song that has been arranged with a theme of “March for Thou”. With its flowing and intense composition, it adorns the finale of the album excellently.

This album is filled with nostalgia of restoring the scenes at that time and the euphoria of reinterpreting those scenes as viewed today. For musicians who remember it, the 5.18 is a powerful event that made them who they are today, and it will be continually viewed as move towards progress.

This great album that had overcome different challenging situations was finally published through collaborative effort and passions of all those who helped with the work. We would like to thank all the musicians who helped directly and indirectly. Also, we hope that the song collections serve as a medium to keep the ideals and values of 5.18. This is the courtesy we can give to those who gave their own lives in order to defend democracy to the last that we now enjoy.

(Edited from the review: Publishing the 5.18 People’s Uprising Memorial Album of Min-Gaph Se Jeong, a popular music reviewer.)

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